Historical Hotties or “My Imaginary Dead Boyfriends”

The first of an occasional series.

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Hoo Boy! 1/6th-plate daguerreotype with tinting and solarization, circa 1846. Ann Longmore-Etheridge Collection.
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Fresh from the cornfield, tintype, circa 1885. Ann Longmore-Etheridge Collection.
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Ol’ Blue Eyes, 1/6th-plate, hand-tinted daguerreotype, circa 1852. Ann Longmore-Etheridge Collection.
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Handsome fellow, 1/6th-plate Weston daguerreotype with solarization, circa 1852. James P. Weston operated a daguerreotype gallery in New York City between 1842 and 1857. The studio functioned out of 132 Chatham Street from 1852 to 1856.

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Adorable Moppets

The first of a occasional series.

Tartan and Striped Socks

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Tintype, circa 1880. Ann Longmore-Etheridge Collection. His hard-soled, lace-up boots are pretty darned adorbs, too.

Big Brother, Little Sister

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1/6th-plate daguerreotype, circa 1849. Ann Longmore-Etheridge Collection. The image is shown here in its open case. Nearly all of the earliest forms of photography were presented in wooden cases.

Worried Will

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British 1/9th-plate relievo ambrotype, circa 1858. Ann Longmore-Etheridge Collection. In this version of an ambrotype, created in 1854 by a Scottish photographer named Urie, the background surrounding the sitter is scraped away and replaced with one of a number of options, including a solid color, a vignette mat, or a false background. When I purchased this ambrotype there was nothing behind the boy’s image, so I had to create a backdrop.

Daddy’s Darling

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1/9th-plate daguerreotype, circa 1850. Ann Longmore-Etheridge Collection. This beautiful little girl, who is literally falling out of her dress, wears a coral necklace (thought to protect children from diseases) but the object in her hand remains a mystery.

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Kissing Cousins?

“Almost certainly a wedding portrait, this is a reasonably well-to-do couple, since they are dressed in formal day wear.”

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Unknown couple, 6th-plate daguerreotype, circa 1854. Ann Longmore-Etheridge Collection.

This is another of my daguerreotypes, formerly of the Ralph Bova collection, which was published in Joan Severa’s My Likeness Taken. Severa wrote of the image: “Almost certainly a wedding portrait, this is a reasonably well-to-do couple, since they are dressed in formal day wear.

“The wife has done her hair in the bandeau style, in the longer, deeper roll that was one of the choices at mid-decade. Her hairdo is finished with ribbon ends hanging from a bow at the back of the crown. She wears what is probably a black velvet bodice over a black silk shirt. The fine whitework collar is large, and the white undersleeve cuffs are deeply frilled. The unusually wide silk ribbon is an expensive luxury; it flares prettily from the folds under the collar to spread over the bosom. A gold chain for a pencil hangs at the waistline.

“The young man wears a morning suit: a cutaway coat over striped trousers. His black vest matches the coat, and the high, standing collar of his starched shirt is held by a wide, horizontal necktie.”

When I first uploaded this image to my photostream at Flickr, a number of commentors suggested the sitters were siblings rather than man and wife. I agree there is a definite resemblance. Severna felt strongly that this image had the hallmarks of a wedding photograph and I also agree with her assessment. The two positions may be reconciled if the subjects are married cousins—a common occurrence until the second half of the 20th Century. Ω